Despite my flabby arse and potbelly, Carl Jung would have marvelled at my powerful front crawl

It's a slovenly New Year's resolution that only kicks in half way through February, but the sight of my brand new Speedo goggles hanging from a kitchen hook provides comforting evidence whenever I'm brewing up that I have finally turned my fitness aspirations for the new millennium into aquatic reality.

Three mornings a week, I'm over at the LivingWell swimming-pool cutting a swathe through dithering breaststrokers and putative synchronised swimmers with my powerful crawl. I wish you could see my crawl. It's little short of sensational. Whereas other swimmers who use the stroke kick up an unhealthy spray with their leg action, or jerk their heads awkwardly out of the water, my body lies so flat throughout the stroke, my head tucked so perfectly behind the advancing arm, that you'd be hard pushed to detect the moment when I snatch a breath. I feel so at one with the water, so much part of its element, that I like to imagine Carl Jung himself standing at the far end of the baths marvelling at how my style confirmed his belief in humanity's unconscious memory of its fishy origins.

Such immodesty is, of course, thoroughly out of place in a column typically characterised by endearing self-deprecation. But there are precious few other occasions for such self-aggrandisement when one's major accomplishment in life is confined to a swimming-pool. Those with a talent for singing or piano-playing or recalling the political agenda of the Wilson administration have little difficulty swinging social occasions to their advantage ("Gosh, is that a piano over there? Mind if I have a tinkle?"), but, as a top swimmer, I can count upon little more than admiring glances from fellow members of the LivingWell club.

I can't pretend that every moment at the club is quite so gratifying. Even though I'm now confining myself to three pints a night (except on special occasions), there's no hiding the fact that I cut a poor figure in the changing-room. Whenever men are naked together, their glances are customarily veiled, but it's not difficult to see from the corner of my eye that nearly all the bared bottoms and bellies being vigorously towelled at the club have an enviable firmness. But, once inside the pool, I can positively trade upon my constitutional flabbiness. Here comes old potbelly, say the eyes of the giggling girls in the jacuzzi. Here comes old flabby arse. Who cares? In ten seconds' time, I'll be streaking backwards and forwards past their indulgent bubbling tub with enough brute power and consummate grace to disconcert a zoo-bound dolphin.

Once or twice I've tried to capitalise terrestrially upon my aquatic skills. Back in the late seventies, a social anthropologist called Moira seemed reasonably impressed by my ability to keep my head under the bathwater at the Leicester Holiday Inn for more than 60 seconds. There was, though, the altogether less satisfactory occasion when I endeavoured to atone for a lacklustre bout of sexual congress with Paulette from Nacro by proceeding to demonstrate the art of the crawl on top of her Laura Ashley duvet in Muswell Hill. As I realised, after five minutes of thrashing my arms against the bolster and kicking my legs vigorously against the bedstead, there was something intrinsically absurd about expending so much energy while remaining so obviously in precisely the same place.

Otherwise, there's been nothing that could count as public recognition of my swimming credentials except the uninhibited laughter of the cashier at Safeway's last Monday morning. It was, apparently, the first time she'd sold a packet of six French-style croissants to anyone wearing a pair of wrap-around Speedo goggles.